Fifty seven years old Saku Bai, a resident of Kamankeda village, has started bleeding from her feet while Antar Singh, a resident of Ekhad village, is finding it difficult to hold his nerves as life is getting tough with each passing day.
As Jal Satyagraha, a movement by 30 farmers of Ghogalgaon and neighbouring villages, located about 100 km south-east of Indore, to protest against the flooding of villages due to the government’s decision to fill up the Omkareshwar dam up to 191 meters from 189 meters, entered its 12th day on Wednesday, several participants were taken ill after remaining in water for the last 12 days.
Around 30 men and women are standing waist-deep in water of the Omkareshwar dam since April 11 with the support of hundreds of people from neighbouring villages.
Alok Agrawal, the Narmada Bachao Aandolan (NBA) activist, said the protestors were falling ill for standing in water. “Some persons were suffering from fever while others have the problem of blisters in their feet.
“They have developed skin itching and water itching problems. There is no primary medical facility in the Ghogalgaon village,” said Agarwal.
The NBA activists alleged that no government agency has contacted them regarding Jal Satyagraha or to reduce the water level of the dam.
“Our protest is only for proper rehabilitation and for adequate compensation of the oustees of Ghogalgaon and its adjoining villages which are coming in the grip of back water of Omkareshwar dam,” he added. Despite all odds and illness creeping in, the morale of protestors remains high.
“Vijay Ya Virgati — we will not end our satyagraha till the government gives us proper rehabilitation and adequate compensation.
“The land, which has been given by us to the government, is productive, but the government has allotted us the non- productive land or it is encroached,” said Saku Bai.
Not only Saku Bai, a couple — Komal, 46, and his wife Nannibai, 42, from Ghogalgaon, also have been part of the agitation from the very first day.
“I have 2.5 acres which was submerged in the back water as the government has raised the water level of the dam.
“We have not got proper rehabilitation and nor even proper compensation from the government,” said Komal. “I have three children. They are alone because we both were sitting on agitation. We do not know that our children were taking their meal in proper manner or not.
“Our neighbours are taking the care of our children,” said Nanni Bai.
A similar Jal Satyagraha in 2012 had lasted for 17 days after the state government accepted all their demands and constituted a ministerial committee to look into their grievances.